Microsoft Convergence 2013, which took place in mid-March 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana, was reportedly the largest annual Convergence conference ever, with more than 11,000 attendees. Although I could not attend the multiday event in person, today’s collaborative technology marvels made it possible for me to follow it fairly closely even from a thousand miles away. Many of the conference messages I first heard at the Microsoft Dynamics’ Fall Analyst Event (FAE) back in November 2012, where the industry analysts and bloggers got conference peek previews (see blog here). Featuring high-profile customers, such as Chobani Inc., Habitat for Humanity International, Revlon Inc., Shock Doctor Inc., and Weight Watchers International Inc., the opening keynote by Microsoft Business Solutions president Kirill Tatarinov talked to how Microsoft Dynamics, as a unifying fabric, is “uniquely positioned in the market to serve as a catalyst to help businesses unite their organizations, unite their people and technology, and unite with their customers.” Read the rest of this entry »
I recently attended the Microsoft Dynamics Fall Analyst Event (FAE) 2012 in Washington state, which started with a tour of a local Microsoft Store (see Part 1 of this blog series, Microsoft Analyst Event Part One: What’s New for Fall 2012). At the company’s Redmond, WA Microsoft headquarters, Kirill Tatarinov, President of the Microsoft Business Solutions Division (MBS), gave us the 2012 year-end review. One major point that he made was that he and the entire MBS department have been promoted into a full-fledged Microsoft division (no longer folded together with SharePoint and Office), and that the division has been recruiting new executives and rank-and-file employees. I take this as a sign of the company’s serious investment in Microsoft Dynamics.
Microsoft has acquired the marketing automation software company MarketingPilot. According to the press release, the new acquisition will be integrated into the Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite. MarketingPilot specialized in software that addresses marketing management demands ranging from insight into customer needs to automation of multi-channel marketing campaigns. MarketingPilot appears to provide strong analytics capabilities that can reveal the return on marketing investment for each campaign. This appears to be the key motivation for the acquisition. As more and more customer relationship management (CRM) products are aspiring to become social and benefit from these new channels of communication, Microsoft is hoping to assess the effectiveness of each campaign as well as its medium of delivery.
My recent blog post on what 2010 might have meant to Microsoft’s business solutions reflected on the highly publicized mid-2010 launch of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and Visio 2010. For the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who use some combination of one or more of Microsoft Dynamics ERP products, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft SharePoint Server to run their businesses, that announcement has provided opportunities for increased business productivity.
The article then analyzed the current state of affairs at Microsoft Dynamics, which also included some recent wins over mature SAP, Oracle, and Sage product instances. But what about Epicor and SYSPRO, the two prominent enterprise resource planning (ERP) mid-market incumbents that also heavily harness Microsoft’s technologies? Well, while Microsoft Dynamics doesn’t particularly enjoy losing deals to these vendors, the Microsoft parent still ultimately wins, given that these independent software vendors (ISVs) are two of the most loyal Microsoft technology promoters.
In 2008, I wrote a four-part series that explained in great detail Microsoft’s platform technology pieces, commonly used in Microsoft Dynamics and many other enterprise applications. Primarily, these “plumbing” tools were Microsoft SQL Server, SharePoint, and Office within enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications, while Visio and SharePoint have also been embedded in a plethora of business process management (BPM) solutions.
Mid-2010 marked the business launch of Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, and Visio 2010. For the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who use some combination of Microsoft Dynamics ERP, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Office, and Microsoft SharePoint Server to run their businesses, that announcement signaled new opportunities to increase productivity.
Dreamforce, salesforce.com’s annual user conference, has over the past several years become a highly anticipated and entertaining end-of-the-year fixture for the enterprise applications market observers (surprisingly, Dreamforce 2011 will take place in late August, and let’s see how that new timing will feel). Namely, in these prolonged times of bad economic news and businesses recoiling across the board, one could always enjoy the unusually high attendance and upbeat and “never a dull moment” atmosphere of the multi-day event, courtesy of salesforce.com’s CEO Marc Benioff and his executive team.
While Dreamforce 2009 was mostly about the continued growth of the vendor and the unveiling of Salesforce Chatter, the company’s nascent social platform and collaboration cloud (as duly covered by my blog series), the overall Dreamforce 2010 theme was the cloud proliferation (and salesforce.com’s further diversification). Needless to say, this was in addition to the theme of continued growth.
Part 1 of this series discussed the current upbeat state of affairs of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, as one of the three best-performing products within the entire Microsoft Corporation of late. In a nutshell, during 2009, the product grew notably and surpassed one million licensed users. Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) offering has become attractive to companies of all sizes, in part due to its multiple deployment options (with bidirectional migration options due to the same code base).
Certainly, much more has to happen before there is truly a common feature set, a common look and feel, and a feasible option to move any company from one mode of deployment to another. The market will thus be keenly looking for referenceable customers from Microsoft who have done this migration even in one direction, let alone as a “round trip.”
The underlying technology developments mentioned in Part 1 have enabled rapid innovation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in many ways. Part 2 analyzed the following embodiments of rapid innovation: the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online offering, CRM Product Accelerators, and the so-called xRM (extended relationship management) framework. The xRM approach takes CRM one step further by targeting the management of all imaginable relationships, not just those with customers.
Part 1 of this series analyzed two white papers entitled “Customer Relationship Management: The Winning Strategy in a Challenging Economy” and “Maximizing CRM Effectiveness During Lean Times” and authored by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle CRM, respectively. The blog post made the case for forward-looking enterprises to leverage customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to help them both weather the ongoing storm and prepare for the inevitable turnaround.
In addition to several macroeconomic trends that seem to be helping CRM solutions prove their worth, the post also analyzed the recent technological enablers that are making CRM offerings more affordable, flexible, and easy to use. In addition to concluding the technical discussion and trends, Part 2 then introduced five main CRM strategies that companies can employ to survive and thrive during uncertain economic conditions, starting with the focus on existing customers. Part 3 concludes this series by analyzing the remaining four CRM strategies. Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of this blog series discussed the current upbeat state of affairs of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, as one of the three best-performing products within the entire Microsoft Corporation of late. In a nutshell, during 2009 the product grew significantly and surpassed its one millionth user. Microsoft’s customer relationship management (CRM) offering has become attractive to companies of all sizes, in part because it offers multiple deployment options (with bidirectional migration options due to the same code base).
The underlying technology developments mentioned in Part 1 have enabled the rapid innovation of Microsoft Dynamics CRM in many ways. The first illustration of the rapid innovation is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online offering, which was launched in April 2008 and has since had four feature pack releases (or service updates).
While Microsoft Corporation has not usually been that forthcoming about breaking down its revenues per individual product lines, during one earnings announcement call for financial analysts in 2009, the worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions for people and businesses pointed out the following three products as its best performers: SharePoint, Microsoft Unified Communications, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In fact, as stated in my previous blog post on Microsoft’s technology for enterprise applications, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta) already have built-in unified communications (UC) traits and collaborative SharePoint portal capabilities.
Microsoft claims that its so-called “CRM+” combination (i.e., Dynamics CRM and SharePoint) has become a compelling customer value proposition. The entire Microsoft Dynamics portfolio is now an over US$1 billion business with more than 300,000 worldwide customers and 10,000+ business partners. Still, the entire Dynamics line of business had a 7 percent decline in Fiscal 2009 (although Microsoft has kept almost religiously mum on providing financial data on individual Dynamics product lines).
In 2009, I attended two Gartner Summit events: the Gartner Business Process Management (BPM) Summit in March in San Diego; and Gartner Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Summit in September in Scottsdale. I not only saw a number of same vendors at both events, but both events also had many similar themes, such as customer service, workflow automation, business processes, collaboration, customer retention, social media, key performance indicators (KPIs)/performance metrics, and so on and so forth.
It might be indicative that BPM and CRM are quite converging disciplines in that Gartner found enough synergy to host its CRM and BPM summits back-to-back in Washington, D.C. in late 2008 (events I did not attend). While BPM vendors are beginning to offer more CRM capabilities, CRM vendors are “returning the favor” with BPM features (e.g., workflow and business rules engines).
This process (no pun intended) may have begun several years ago. Namely, in 2005, the former Onyx Corporation (acquired by Consona Coporation in 2006 and meanwhile renamed into Consona Customer Management), began shifting its focus from highly contested and commoditized CRM applications toward more adaptive BPM-enabled applications via the former Onyx Process Manager in 2005. Consona’s CRM division does not sell its BPM module outside its CRM offering, but is proud to talk about its product’s adaptability due to native BPM features.
Both software categories also grew (CRM about 5 percent and BPM about 10 percent) in 2009, in contrast to a decline in most other enterprise applications. When money is tight, shrewd businesses look for ways to do more with less, and BPM seems to hold the promise of improving the customer’s experience. As companies cite business processes affected by CRM as their top challenge, CRM vendors have moved from focusing on pure technology to enabling processes, and BPM capabilities have taken a greater role in CRM suites. This convergence leads me to quote Forrest Gump: “We goes together like peas and carrots.”
Part 1 of this blog series analyzed two white papers entitled “Customer Relationship Management: The Winning Strategy in a Challenging Economy” and “Maximizing CRM Effectiveness During Lean Times,” authored by Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Oracle CRM, respectively. My post made the case for forward-looking enterprises to leverage customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to help them both weather the ongoing storm and prepare for the inevitable turnaround.
In addition to several macroeconomic trends that seem to be helping CRM solutions prove their worth, I also analyzed the recent technological enablers that are making CRM offerings more affordable, flexible, and easy to use. One enabler is the software as a service (SaaS) or on-demand subscription-based deployment mode and the other is the fact that CRM has lately expanded from its traditional “operational” realm into also being “analytic, collaborative, and social.”
Some previous TEC blog posts have discussed the benefits (but also the inevitable caveats) of white papers, including the all-too-common vendors’ self-serving marketing fluff and buzzword verbiage, and about their (un)intended audiences. As part of my daily routine of doing research on vendors and their strategies and offerings, I’ve read a ton of white papers in the last decade or so.
And yes, these have ranged from blatant and flamboyant bragging about a vendor’s capabilities (a la the “Every man thinks his own geese are swans” proverb) to some exceptional ones that were quite educational and established someone’s expertise in something. Read the rest of this entry »
Part I of this blog post series talked about my encounter with BigMachines, a provider of slick software-as-a-service (SaaS) configure, price, and quote (CPQ)/quote-to-order (Q2O) solutions during my recent attendance of Gartner’s CRM Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona (US). Prior to analyzing recent events at BigMachines, Part I explained the general value proposition of on-demand Q2O and CPQ software solutions. Part II will continue with a discussion of recent developments at BigMachines.
Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series went through the five previous generations of the Microsoft Dynamics NAV (formerly Navision) product. In late 2008, at the European Microsoft Convergence user conference, attendees saw the sixth major release of the product, dubbed Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2009.
The product’s subsequent launch in the US was in February 2009 (the replay can be seen here). But rather than merely reciting the enhancements from the official PR and sounding like other media and analyst reposts, this final part will try to focus more on the nitty-gritty. Namely, it will analyze how this particular product release might have mitigated many of the traditional flaws of Dynamics NAV (and former Navision) while building upon the product’s traditional (if not proverbial by now) positive traits. Read the rest of this entry »